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Three Wishes for Recruiting Duty

They warn the families of new military recruiters that only way to be happy is to keep your expectations low.

Recruiting isn’t about short hours, kickin’ back, and spending the weekends exploring local barbeque joints with the spouse and kidlets.

This is recruiter duty. It’s like being a tax accountant in a world where every month is April and every client has a footlocker full of crumpled receipts.

But what if there was something you could do to make that duty just a little bit better?

One wife of an Army Staff Sgt. (E-6) wrote us to see if the initial “wish list” could make a difference for them:

For the last six years we haven’t had to worry about where to live since we have always been told. We are given the chance to pick nine places and Army picks one. We are trying to figure out some options and want to know what would be the best as a wife?

Given that those nine picks are just suggestions that the military does not have to take, I still thought it was a good question. If you really had meaningful wishes for recruiting duty, what would they be?

So I called my friend the Petersons. Not only did Jeff spend ten years of his career in Recruiting, but the Petersons were pretty happy during recruiting duty. We came up with three wishes for you:

1. Wish for a city next to some kind of military installation. If a spouse plans to work or go back to school during recruiting duty (a great idea!) that will be easier to do in an urban area rather than in a rural area. If that urban area contains a military base, you not only get access to the commissary and medical, but it also keeps you in a community where people understand military life a little better. A pretty good combo.

2.Wish for the south.  It is easier to recruit in some states than others (think Texas and Southern California). But Jeff recommended anywhere in the South for an unrecruiterly reason: snow and ice. “When you are a recruiter, you drive a lot. A lot of accidents happen in rural areas. We hit more deer than you can shake a stick at.” You might sleep a little better if you aren’t worried about the road conditions your tired recruiter is driving through.

3.Wish for family only if they are perfect. Many young recruiters think that if they move their family to their hometown or their spouse’s hometown that extended family will pick up the slack for the absent recruiter. “Family is a double edged sword,” Jeff told me. Extended families think that the servicemember has been gone enough already. They have many expectations about what you should be attending and what you should be doing.

“When you are working ungodly hours six days a week and driving recruits to MEPS (Military Entrance Process Station — the regional facility where recruits from all services are in-processed), expectations from the extended family can be too much. Think about your own relationships calculus before you agree to hometown duty.

Lastly, please realize that all of these things are just wishes — the kind you make when you have to make decisions based on very little knowledge.

Know that some recruiter families are happy living in rural areas far away from the military. Some much prefer the North to the South — or they have big grills on their trucks. Still others have perfect extended families and treasure the time they spent together.

No one can decide for you (except the Army) so every little thing you do to prepare together can help. Make your wishes with the information you can collect now and plan to make the best of whatever happens.

About Jacey Eckhart

Jacey Eckhart is the Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom.